The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the latest set of recommendations for people who are two weeks past their final shot, and for those who have not yet been inoculated. The guidelines address growing calls from infectious-disease and other public health experts to relax mask mandates for the outdoors because breezes disperse airborne virus particles, distancing is easier, and humidity and sunlight render the coronavirus less viable.
For that reason, the guidance also says even unvaccinated individuals may go without masks when walking, jogging or biking outdoors with household members. However, officials caution that crowded outdoor settings still pose risks and urge everyone — both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals — to wear masks when attending sporting events, live performances and parades.
“Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing. “Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.”
The nearly 96 million Americans who are fully vaccinated can now forego masks for many outdoor activities, including:
- Walking, running, hiking or biking outdoors alone or with members of your household;
- Attending a small outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends;
- Attending a small outdoor gathering with a mix of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people;
- Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households.
Officials say certain conditions increase risk: crowding, time spent, lack of ventilation and high community transmission. That’s why CDC is recommending that it is safest for fully vaccinated people to continue to wear well-fitted masks in these settings, including:
- Attending a crowded outdoor event, such as a live performance, parade or sporting event;
- Visiting a barber or hair salon;
- Going to an uncrowded indoor shopping mall or museum;
- Going to an indoor movie theater;
- Attending a full-capacity service at a house of worship;
- Singing in an indoor chorus.